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Posts tagged with: Election

Journalists roughed up while covering the NA Speaker election

Yesterday during the National Assembly session where the elections were underway to elect the new speaker of the house, outside it seems that the media was being roughed up for God knows what reason, under specific orders of the SP & DSP. One can only speculate as to why these media outlets were being prevented from covering the national assembly session.

Journalists Beaten up
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Bilawal (Zardari) Bhutto in Pakistan to announce the name of PM

It is surprising that with all the reeling and dealing orchestrated by Asif Ali Zardari alone he now feels its important to recall his son Bilawal Zardari back to Pakistan to simply make the official announcement for the new Prime Minister. Farhatullah Babar is quoted to have said that the “The name of the prime minister will be announced when the parliament session is reconvened for the election of the prime minister, which is expected next week.

One has to wonder at the politics of this move by Asif Zardari and the need to call his son to make this announcement. A number of sources within the party are definitely distraught at this move, as they feel Bilawal did not find it ‘important enough‘ to come to Pakistan and pay homage for his mothers’ chehlum, but found it convenient to abandon his studies for a few days to rubber stamp the nomination made by his father. In all likelihood this decision will most likely be a tough one and literally holding the party on the verge of a breakup

Black Flag Week Protest at Harvard University

Cambridge, MA: Student Action Committee USA Chapter (SAC-USA) staged a successful protest in Harvard Yard today demanding immediate restoration of the pre-Nov 3 independent judiciary in Pakistan. The protestors condemned – in no uncertain terms- the unconstitutional acts of General (r) Musharraf which include the sacking of an independent judiciary, gagging of media and free speech, suspension of civil liberties and fundamental human rights and illegal detention of judges, lawyers and political opponents without any trial or charges. They chanted “Bring the Judges Back” and “No more Musharraf” and walked from John Harvard Statue to Harvard Square holding black flags and banners.

The protest – which is one of three organized by SAC-USA (the other two being in New York and Washington DC) – attracted a large number of students from Harvard College, Kennedy School of Government, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law, Boston University and other premier institutions of the Boston region. Joining students in their demands were doctors, lawyers – particularly the National Lawyers Guild, Massachusetts chapter-, professionals of Pakistani origin and other members of American Civil Society.
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US still playing ‘Dumb’ on the issue of Judiciary in Pakistan

In a press briefing given by the US State Department on 10th March a few questions were raised on Pakistan and its ongoing judicial & political crisis. It seems that the US Government is still not willing to come clean and talk about the restoration or independence of judiciary, despite one reporters direct question talking about the independent judiciary being a pillar for US democracy.

Its ironic to see that the US government meddling in Pakistan’s affairs to the extent of deliberately ignoring the judicial problem and rubber stamping the Martial Law enforced by their blue-eyed boy-wonder [Musharraf] on Nov 3rd. One has to logically question if America really wants to resolve the terrorism issue in this region, as without a proper judicial system no one can expect the criminals to be brought to justice let alone stop the chaos in the country.

The recent increase in suicidal bombings will got to show that we are not faring any better under the authoritarian regime, the problems will not magically disappear. American officials may deny any claim but this recent ‘happy go lucky’ democracy which will come under Asif Zardari is yet again being rubber stamped into approval by the Americans. So much of meddling in into the politics of our country, I have the urge to directly hold the American Government responsible for the chaos in Pakistan.

Hear the section on Pakistan from the Daily Press Briefing by Sean McCormack, Spokesman for the State Dept

Full Text below[State Dept link]
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More Fissures To Come in PPP and PPPP

Guest Blog by Temporal who blogs at Baithak

Today, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, a man of well chosen words said, “My heart is full of secrets, which, if I reveal to media they could bring storm in the national politics.”

I have written on this subject earlier. This is the third blog on the subject of fissures in the PPP. The interim Co Chairperson of the PPP as per written will is thrust in the limelight. To be fair he needs time to establish his control over the party. The eminent giant stalwarts that surround Asif Zardari since Benazir’s assassination were pygmies in front of her. They dare not speak unless asked. If she said jump they would ask how high. In the days following the assassination on three occasions Asif Zardari publicly declared his lack of interest in becoming the Prime Minister and indicated Makhdoom Amin Fahim as PPP’s choice for the post. What gave?

Intrigues. Royal intrigues. Makhdoom Amin Fahim was loyal to his leader. The poor fellow is being sent to the cleaners. Greed is worn on the sleeves by the party stalwarts. They see “Ministries” in their dreams. Not one faithful has come to Fahim’s rescue. Read on.
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Black Flag Week activities in UK

Reported by Rabia Zia

On March 9 2008 in front of the High Commission of Pakistan, London, the Pakistani community in the UK responded to the call of the Supreme Court Bar Association to show solidarity with the lawyers movement in Pakistan to restore judiciary and to ask Musharraf to step down immediately with Go Musharraf Go chanting. This is as mandated by the people of Pakistan based on the result of the recent elections. 

There was also a clear demand for immediate release of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and others who are under house arrest and strong condemnation of violence used against the lawyers, civil society activists, students, political party members in Islamabad today who were trying to meet with the Chief Justice. In the protest today, we had representation from the civil society including students, UK Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and Justice for Pakistan, Sibghat Kadri QC, political parties ie PPP, PML-N, PTI etc. 
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Zardari and Sharif vow to restore Judiciary within 30 days of formation of Parliament

In a joint statement of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari they have come together to form a coalition govt and have promised to reinstate all deposed judges within 30 days of Parliament. Aitzaz Ahsan welcomes this new development and states that countdown will begin.

In all honesty this could be the ‘face-saving’ excuse that Nawaz Sharif needs to enter into the coalition to form the government, as in the past few days it had slowly appeared that Zardari was least interested in any discussion leading to the restoration of judiciary, it simply did not benefit him and his party to even talk about the judiciary. This new joint statement allows Nawaz Sharif some breathing room for another month but the focus will then be squarely on the ‘duo’ to fulfill this promise to the people of Pakistan. I personally celebrate this news but raise a concern that it could only be delaying tactics an attempt to diffuse the issue the restoration of judiciary into irrelevance.

As reported in Dawn
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Islamabad Rally Tear Gassed and Lathi-charged

Reports are coming in that the Black Flag Week Rally in Islamabad was lathi charged and heavily tear gassed

As reported on Dawn

Police fired teargas at supporters of the country’s sacked chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, protesting outside his official residence in Islamabad on Sunday, witnesses said. The protestors, including lawyers, political party workers and civil society activists, were stopped by riot police at the barbed barricade erected outside the residence of deposed supreme court chief justice. Later, police fired teargas at the protestors to disperse them and both sides threw stones at each other, an AFP photographer said. The protestors wanted to march towards Chaudhry’s residence and present him with flowers but police stopped them, he said. The hide and seek and intermittent clashes between the police and the judges supporters continued till late in the afternoon. Lawyers across Pakistan Sunday began the observance of “Black Flag Week to press for Chaudhry’s reinstatement. President Pervez Musharraf sacked Chaudhry on March 9 last year on misconduct charges but the Supreme Court reinstated him in July. In November Musharraf again sacked Chaudhry and other judges under emergency rule, fearing they might disqualify him for contesting presidential election while being army chief and president at the same time. Chaudhry and his family have been living under house arrest at the official residence in judges colony in a heavily-guarded government residential area of Islamabad since November. Pakistan’s incoming government coalition partners Sunday said that the new parliament would reinstate the sacked judges

International Women’s Day; A Pakistani Perspective

International Womens DayMarch 8th marks the celebration of the International Womens Day worldwide, in Pakistan women have done some hard work to be considered at par with the men of society, probably their most notable event remains the protest of Feb 12th 1982 where women were brutally attacked by the state machinery (aka Zia-ul-Haq), that day is probably the ‘unofficial’ Women’s Day in Pakistan.

I share with you an article [unedited version] written by Beena Sarwar in Dawn on 3rd March 2008

Here comes that day again, the one dedicated to women all over the world, March 8, International Women’s Day. In Pakistan, we observe our own unofficial Women’s Day every February 12 since the watershed rally in 1983 organised by the Punjab Women Lawyers Association in Lahore. Sadly, the symbolism of this demonstration is still relevant: it was a protest against Gen. Ziaul Haq’s law of evidence that reduced the testimony of women in court to half that of men; like many other laws the general imposed, it remains in our statute books.
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Silent Revolution – 1

Guest Blog by Amjad Malik

Public have silently spoken through ballot putting added pressure on our political clan who always fall a prey to pragmatism and accept defeat before even the battle starts. Lawyers moved, bench stood up, media bore with the bashing honourably but only the clan of Q did not move and surrender to public demand and in the end they fell badly from their throne as pride hath a fall. Now public with sheer wisdom have given the task to the new parliament to sort out the mess the country is in rather than boycotting or bringing an orange revolution which is in true sense a silent revolution where opponent is defeated though still alive.
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Qazi Faiz Isa Talks on ‘You and the Constitution’

Qazi Faez IsaThis session with Barrister Qazi Faez Isa was recorded a few weeks back on January 25th when he came to Shirkat Gah, Karachi on the invitation of Peoples Resistance & The Green Economics & Globalization Initiative to talk about the political issues related to the constitution of Pakistan. Its been over a month but even now since the elections this discussion with Qazi Faez Isa is still worth listening to but mind you this was recorded before the elections.

I think the most important part of his talk is when he sheds light on the ‘less talked about’ issue of the Islamabad High Court and its implications on the people of Pakistan. It seems that the Islamabad High Court issue has been snuck under the table amidst the political chaos which ensued in the latter part of December, and an issue equally as important as the restoration of Judiciary

Download the MP3 (27MB) [download#5]

Educated Punjab’s Uneducated Chief Minister

Guest Blog by Amjad Malik

What goes around, comes around was a phrase I heard in my childhood and the fate of our outgoing political machinery is pitiful as they are still conspiring, aspiring and dreaming of forming government by hook or crook despite the fact that air is against them, and they do not find any space in the ranks of opposition, and people of Q like a salt are diluting in the political waters of Pakistan as they have no roots in the masses on their own. They are a tribe which never go to jail and is always ready to switch sides at eleventh hour. Those who were claiming to elect a serving General ten times in uniform to the slot of president are biting their nails and the mandate is clear, in comes the chief justice and out goes the President.

Public have spoken once again, and they cheered loudly that its democracy they prefer. Once again mandate has been given to parties holding roots in the masses and we are once again at a crossroad yet again, to respect that mandate and save the integrity and sovereignty of the country or repeat our mistakes like 70s. We must learn from the mistakes of past when we lost Dhaka shamefully, we daringly are willing to repeat such mistakes. I have been depicting the core of our problems one of which is that we never nip the evil in the bud and we always try to move forward pragmatically without caring the fall outs on state. Hamood ur Rehman commission was quick to depict our weaknesses earlier in 70s and it tried to put our future straight but we withheld that report for decades which should have been part and parcel of our learning process. I would quote only few relevant paragraphs just to give a glimpse to show how familiar the scene was then, and even now, and I pose a question when will we learn.
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Pakistan Has Spoken, Will Democracy Follow? Avaaz.org Petition and AD

avaaz_democracy_for_pakistanAvaaz.org, a very active global online movement with a simple democratic mission has recently petitioned online users to support its campaign to promote democracy in Pakistan. You can participate in either signing the petition which stands at ~84,000 signatures (goal of 150,000) or even contribute to the publication of this full page ad in The News ($10,623 or equivalent to Rs. 648,000)

The people of Pakistan have overcome violence & rigging to cast a clear vote for civilian democracy. 75% want President Musharraf to go. But things are tense: Musharraf hints he could dismiss the new parliament and Western powers are still propping him up.

The Pakistani people have cast an undeniable vote for change. If they are betrayed, chaos could follow. Let’s back them with big advertisements (see right) in Pakistan’s The News, a respected broadsheet read by politicians, ambassadors and generals alike. The ad’s centerpiece is our petition calling for democracy to be supported not undermined – please sign the petition to help Pakistan’s democrats, or give a donation to help fund the ad


I also attach here a copy of their email to all their active supporters sent a few days back

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People’s Resistance welcomes Election Results, Condemns Blatant Rigging in Karachi

While welcoming the results of the general elections of February 18, the Peoples Resistance noted that the overall results came about despite massive pre-poll manipulation in the form of compromising the independence of judiciary and media, illegal transfers and postings, and an incomplete and flawed electoral role. PR also strongly condemned the widespread rigging itself that marked the February 18 polls in Karachi and called for action against those involved in the manipulation of votes cast that day.

Independent reports confirm overstuffing of ballot boxes, higher volume of votes despite low turnout, harassment at the polling stations, voting without ID card, absence of voters names on the electoral list and the overwhelming presence of a certain partys workers across a large number of polling stations in the city. According to one report, some polling stations registered 140% voters turnout despite a low turnout generally witnessed in the city.

Peoples Resistance has many individual testimonies complaining of harassment, rigging and being coerced to vote in a certain partys favour. Voters complained that their ballot papers were already stamped on the kite symbol, that they were not provided privacy at the polling booths that the presiding officers themselves asked voters to stamp the kite symbol. Many gave in to the presiding officers coercion, afraid to risk a confrontation, especially in the overwhelming presence of the partys activists at the polling booths. Voters also complained that they were handed over up to 50 ballot papers to stamp against their ID cards. “I was asked to stamp the kite symbol on all of them, said one voter.
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The nation will not forgive…

Guest Post by Amer Nazir

And why should it…

The present change has not been brought about by the politicians alone too many unsung heroes have lost their lives… they did not have a distinguished name or title, they just died on the streets… only to figure in a grand total, to add on to figures that we read in the newspapers but which we now do not give a second thought about…

Zardari and Nawaz Sharif stand redeemed today, whether they deserved the earlier treatment or the present notwithstanding the fact is that they stand redeemed today, their troubles are over in a personal sense and then revenge is a dish better served cold… but what about the nation… when will it be redeemed… what about those common people who have suffered irreparable loss… and what about those who worked and voted for the redemption of a nation…

How can they say that they will not impeach Musharaff not take him and his cronies to trialthat it is not a priority…

This change has come about because of the efforts of those who lost their lives in the process whether it is Benazir Bhutto or the hundreds of nameless, it has been brought about by those ordinary people who have and still are languishing in jails and in exile… by the brave lawyers, the judiciary, the politicians who refused to contest elections, by the media, the common man on the street who came out for demonstrations in different cities of the world and this change is the result of each and every one of us who has written may it be even a single word to protest… to let the world know of our plight and which has finally changed global perception…
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